In this article I really want to clear up a few myths that I’ve seen banded around in the gym about body fat recently. To do this I am going to have to go into a bit of depth about energy systems and energy sources. Hopefully by the end of this article you will know about the positive and negative effects of fat, what really makes people’s body fat and how to improve your diet.
Firstly, lets talk about energy sources. Im hoping you already know that humans get their energy from the food they eat; however, if you didn’t, now you do! There are three types of foods that we gain energy from. These are fats, proteins and carbohydrates. By eating these foods our body metabolises the energy inside them and as a result we can move about, breathe, think, and live. However, when we metabolise more energy than our bodies can cope with, we either flush the extra out or store it in adipose tissue (also referred to as body fat).
As an example of this the groups breakdown like this:
- 1g Fat = 9 Kcals of Energy
- 1g Protein = 4 Kcals of energy
- 1g Carbohydrates = 4 Kcals of energy
Now, I hear you ask, how much can our body cope with before it starts metabolising the energy and storing it in body fat? It is quite simple really. The liver can cope with around 85 grams of carbohydrates every 2-3 hours. Anything more than the 85g will be converted, via lipogenesis, into body fat. The liver can also deal with 45g of protein every 2-3 hours before storing the excess in body fat. On the other hand your liver does not at any stage have a limit for the amount of fat you can eat; other than the risk of putting it and the gall bladder under serious stress if you do too much. WABBA actually indicate you should only have a total 15g fat every 2-3 hours to avoid damaging the liver and causing massive bile build up.
My point being is this, although fat can cause issues, eating fat does not at any stage add to your body fat directly. Saturated fats links to bad cholesterol are being thoroughly researched at the moment as the results are fluctuating as to whether or not it is causing heart issues. In the mean time I would try to keep intake of this low. Trans fats, basically found in foods and anything with hydrogenated vegetable oil in, are actually toxic to humans so stay away from fast food and cook your own fresh. However, unsaturated fats are good for you and improve skin, hair and are used as a source of energy without being converted to adipose tissue.
As you can see, the real bad guys for making you fat is protein and carbohydrates. So those of you on protein shakes that give you 45g+ of protein after your workout you may want to think about whether that scoop is going to convert into muscle or fat. The same applies for carbs. if you overload on the carbohydrates then you’re going to put on fat.
It is proven that a meal of Carbohydrates:Protein:Vitamins & Minerals in a measure of 2:1:1 will stop muscle breakdown, enhance protein synthesis, and replace vits and mins lost in exercise. Some people like to eat clean and avoid fats completely, potentially sacrificing taste, but as you can now see it doesn’t matter, with regards to body fat, whether some fat is contained in that meal. Whether that fat comes clean from white meat, fish and nuts or dirty from red meat, the health benefits are not relating to body fat but heart etc.
I hope this helps please feel free to comment and discuss!